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  1. #1

    Default Dutch Las Vegas Wedding, West Coast trip to Victoria BC: Please Advise!


    We're from The Netherlands and will visit Las Vegas in October because my brother is going to be married there. After his marriage we (my wife, I and two sons 2 & 4 years old) are planning to drive to Victoria BC in an ambitious 13 days (22 October - 3 November).

    Although we first planned to rent a minivan, the thought of driving a RV seems more fun and perhaps less expensive than a regular rental car in combination with hotel bookings. We, however do not have any RV experience whatsoever. After Vegas we would like to visit the following cities and their sights: San Diego 1 night, L.A. 1 night, Yosemite 1 night, San Francisco 3 nights, Portland 1 night, Victoria BC 2 night and Seattle 1 night. We have planned a flight back from Seattle to New York.

    Can anyone please give us some advice on:
    - where to rent a RV;
    - what do we have to consider before renting a RV;
    - what kind of maintenance does a RV need during the trip;
    - Is it easy to get gas for a RV;
    - Is it easy to drive to the cities we want to see with a RV;
    - whether or not we should start of with renting a regular car and at a later point during the trip a RV;
    - any other advice...?

    Hopefully someone can give us some useful tips. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default First Impressions

    Welkom! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your initial guess was probably correct, a minivan would probably offer greater flexibility and lower cost than an RV capable of sleeping 4, even if two of them are small. RV's almost ever work out to be cost effective, especially for short time, long distance one-way rentals such as you are contemplating. Such vehicles can also be unwieldy in city traffic, and many of your destinations are urban in nature. Finally, one-way rentals on RV are typically only available between specific city pairs, and the drop off fee can be quite substantial even if Las Vegas to Seattle were available (which I doubt). In any case, make sure that whatever vehicle you rent can be taken into Canada and back. While this is usually not a problem, it must be written into the contract. Note that you will not be allowed to take any American rental car into Mexico. For the most part accommodations should be readily available throughout your trip. The one place where you should make reservations to ensure that you have a place to lay your heads is Yosemite which has a relatively short tourist season and can be booked solid from opening to closing.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default resources

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    A few things that I think you should keep in mind with your plans. First, an RV can be a great, fun, choice for a roadtrip, but it is very unlikely that it would be a cheaper option. By the time you factor in increased rental costs, increased fuel costs, and campsite fees (which can be nearly as much as a motel at times), an RV isn't a choice you make to be frugal. It can let you get much closer to your surroundings than a car/motel trip, though, so there are certainly some positives. RVs aren't that great for city travel either, but if you are spending most of your time in National Parks, it could work out well. What I would certainly not do is try to switch modes of transportation, as you'll end up getting hit with 2 one way drop fees.

    I'll also say that it seems like you may be trying to do too much. Right now you really don't have any time scheduled to drive the fantastic Pacific Coast Highway. If you'd take that route, you'd be looking at at least 2 days from LA to SF, and you'd need 3 days to make the drive from SF to Portland. What I might do on your timeframe is skip San Diego and LA, and go through Death Valley to Yosemite, then head to SF and head up the coast from there. You might also skip Victoria to give yourself more time to enjoy the journey.

    As far as the details of renting an RV, our Planning Section has several great articles, but I'd start with this one: How to Rent an RV.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Lifestyle choice.

    At the risk of sounding repetitive, I agree with the above posters. An RV can be great fun when spending time in natures surround, but not so much so in the City.

    With just the 2 of you paying the cost, it will be far cheaper to take a regular car and Motel rooms then it will an RV with all it's associated costs. Everything else associated with RV rental is quite straight forward, with no more maintenance than a car, keeping an eye on fluid levels and tyre pressures etc. If you need to top up with propane it can be done at many campgrounds by a qualified attendant and once you are shown how to operate everything, there is nothing to worry about. For a one way rental you will be looking at one of the big rental Co's, such as Cruise America, El Monte and Road Bear. It's worth checking for Internet deals, as sometimes they are cheaper than going direct to the source.

    Think of it as a lifestyle choice, and whether it is right for you and this trip, or not ?

  5. #5


    Hi AZBuck, Midwest Michael and Southwest Dave,

    Thank you all for the great advice. Sorry for my delay in replying, but have been busy with finding flight and hotel deals for my brother's guests...

    Based on your response we have decided to go for a minivan this time and next time plan a RV trip. It still seems like great fun, but since it's our first West Coast visit we really want to see the big cities. Probably take another trip in the near future and then visit all of the great parks and nature that the west has to offer.

    Again, thank you so much for the advice and this great site!

    Kind Regards,

  6. #6

    Default Hotels between San Fran & Portland, sights in San Fran & Seattle & Skywalk day trip?


    We (my wife, 2 boys aged 4 and 2,5 and I) are from The Netherlands and will visit the US West Coast next month. We already received some great advice from some others (AZBuck, Southwest Dave, Midwest Michael) from the site, related to what type of vehicle we should choose for our trip. Our trip basically is:
    15 - 18 October NY
    18 - 22 October Las Vegas (for the wedding of one of my brothers)
    22 October: LA
    23 October: Disneyland
    24 October: LA and then drive to San Fran
    24 – 28 October: San Francisco
    28-29 October: Portland
    30 October – 1 November: Victoria BC
    1 November: Seattle
    3 November: NY
    6 November: back to Amsterdam….

    Right now we are looking for some hotel advice for our trip from San Fran to Portland. We will be staying at the house of a relative on the 29th and we want to arrive at his around lunch time. We probably have to leave his house no later than 7am on the 30th to arrive at the port angeles ferry at 1pm.
    Because the trip from San Fran to Portland is approximately 11 hours we thought of two scenario’s:
    1. Leave San Fran in the morning of the 28th and just drive until I can’t drive no more and stay in a hotel/motel en route to Portland. And leave that hotel in time on the 29th to arrive at our relative’s house around lunch.
    2. Leave San Fran in the evening around 6pm and drive to a hotel/motel approximately 4/5 hours from Portland. And leave the hotel around 7 am to arrive at our relative’s house around lunch.

    Do you happen to know what is a good place to sleep along that route?
    Additionally, do you also have some hotel and any sightseeing advice for San Francisco and Seattle? We are at least thinking of going to Alcatraz on Monday the 25th of October. Hope you have some advice.

    While in Vegas we are thinking of driving to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon Skywalk in one day. Any advice on that trip?

    Thanks in advance!
    Wafaa & Henk
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 09-19-2010 at 04:31 PM. Reason: Merged - Please do not create multiple threads about the same trip

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Third Option

    San Francisco to Portland is a shade under 650 miles. While that's not a distance you should be trying to drive in a single day, especially with children, it is a distance you should be able to cover comfortably in a day and a half. It's also a drive that you want to take entirely in the daylight so as not to miss out on any of the scenery. If you leave San Francisco early in the morning of the 28th, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning sunrise, you should be able to make Eugene, OR easily by sunset. You're only two hours from Portland at that point, so you might even be more comfortable laying up a bit sooner, say in Roseburg.

    Alcatraz is certainly a unique attraction in San Francisco as are the Cable Cars and the Exploratorium. But your plans in and around Las Vegas are simply not reasonable. You could possibly see Hoover Dam and Lake Mead in a day, but they are in opposite directions from Las Vegas. The Skywalk is simply out of the question as a day trip from Las Vegas. First of all the Skywalk is on the Hualapai Indian Reservation and is very expensive, about $75/person by the time you pay admission and transport fees. It is also very remote, at the end of a long unimproved dirt road that may violate the terms of your car rental contract. Just the drive to Peach Springs on state maintained roads is nearly 4 hours one way, so you'd have to put in 8 hours of driving just for the chance to get on a bus for a long slow ride in to the Skywalk and back out on a poor road. As I say, it is not a day trip from Las Vegas.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default LA to SF.

    Allowing just a day to get from LA to SF will not afford you the time to take the very scenic and popular coastal route. If you already realise this and are prepared to go via Interstate that's OK, if not I would consider arriving in SF on the 25th and stop overnight along the coast.

    San Fran is a compact City and quite easy to get around with Lot's to keep you occupied. Alcatraz is a wonderful trip and highly recommended. If you want to book in advance [recommended] then this is the place to get official tickets. Union Square, China town, Coit tower, Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square and the Cable cars/museum are some of many attractions.

    For Hotels, it is better that you do some of your own research on sites such as Trip Advisor as there are so many options and budgets, and only a few regular contributors to this site, it is unlikely you will get much response on this. [But who knows ?] When you have looked at such sites as Trip Advisor/Expedia, always check to see if the Hotel has it's own Website, as it is quite often cheaper to book direct or to find a price promise to match any other offers for their particular Hotel. I will mention that San Fran has some budget friendly Motels [compared to City centre] along Lombard Street around Van Ness Ave and Gough Street which are not far from Fisherman's Wharf and the Cable cars to the City.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I see some issues. If you want to sightsee in LA *and* drive to SF in the same day, you will have to take I-5, which offers very little scenery. Same with SF to Portland - I-5 is your only reasonable option. It would be a shame to completely miss the very picturesque California and Oregon coasts.

    If you compromise and take 101 from LA to SF, this can be done in 1 day, but you need a *full* day. You would need 2 full days to go up the coast on CA-1. From SF to Portland, taking US-101 all the way is 2 very full days, if you want to go up CA-1 till it ends and then 101 the rest of the way, you need a 3rd day.

  10. #10

    Default Thanks glc!

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    I see some issues. If you want to sightsee in LA *and* drive to SF in the same day, you will have to take I-5, which offers very little scenery. Same with SF to Portland - I-5 is your only reasonable option. It would be a shame to completely miss the very picturesque California and Oregon coasts.
    Thanks for your reply! I'm afraid we do not have much room for compromises. We have to reach the ferry to Canada on October 30th and meet a relative the day before in Oregon...

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